Location: South Cerney, Gloucestershire, England (SU0497)
Year: Col. 1930s
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: [Not given]


John Harvey-Webb
South Cerney (Gloucestershire) Mummers Play
Folktrax Archive, Heritage House, 16 Brunswick Square, Gloucester GL1 1UG, Donated 1957



Bold Tanner

Give room, give room, this gallant hall
And give me room to rise
And I'll show you such activity
On this merry Christmastide.
Activity of youth, activity of age
Such activity has never been seen
Or acted.on a stage
For I am Bold Tanner from Nottingham
My name it is Arthur O Bran
There's not a squire Living in the whole damp shire
That would dare to bid me stand
With my long spike shaft all on my shoulder
See how well I clear my way
With a One Two Three
I make them all flee
And give them more labour to stay
As I was walking through the King's forest
To view the red deer
That run here and there
There bold Robin Hood did I spy
And as soon as Bold Robin Hood did me spy
He thought fine sport to make
He held out his hand
And bid me to stand
And thus unto me he spake

{Robin Hood, who has been standing on one side, comes forward}

Robin Hood

Who art thou, bold fellow?
That stands so boldly here?
Sure and in brief
Thou look'st like a thief
Come in the night to steal away the King's deer

Bold Tanner

I am the keeper of the King's Forest
And have such great command
The King put me here
To view the red deer
That run here and there
And stop thee bold fellow I must

Robin Hood

If thou art the keeper of this forest
And hast such great command
Sure thou must have more in store
Than thou hast. before
Thou biddest me to stand.

Bold Tanner

I have no more to be taken in store than I need
I have a staff
And another old graf
That I'm sure will do his deed

{Enter Little John}

Little John

What is the matter, master
I pray unto me tell?
I see thee stand
With a staff in thy hand
I fear it is not all well

Robin Hood

A man and a man
And he bids me to stand
Bold Tanner he stands by my side
He's a bonny blade
And a master by trade
And he swears he'll tan thy hide

Little John

If it is to be commanded by that
It's as much as he can do
For, if he is so stout
He and I will have a bout
And I'll tan his old hide well too.

Bold Tanner

Pray. let us measure our staves
Before we begin this fray
I would not have my staff
One half foot longer than thine
Or else thou would'st call that foul play.

Little John

My staff's out full length
My staff's out full blee
My staff would knock down a calf -And I'm sure he'll knock down thee

Bold Tanner

Pray, then, let this bout begin

{They fight for some time}

Little John

What didst thou say, thou proud fellow
That thou hast conquered me?
I'll let thee see before I go
That I'll fight before I flee

{Bold Tanner is knocked down by a blow on the leg}

Little John

Doctor, Doctor, where bist thee?
Bold Tanner's wounded in the knee
Five thousand pounds will I lay down
If a noble doctor could be found.

Doctor {outside}

No more than that?

Little John

Yes, Then ten thousand pounds I will lay down
If a noble doctor could be found

Doctor {still outside}

'Old my 'orse, Jack
Rack 'un to a f'urze faggot
And gie' un a bucket of cold ashes to drink

{Doctor enters}


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen all
And a merry Christmas to you all
I am a noble doctor, both stout and good
With my created hand I can purge the blood
Cure the stitch, the itch
The palsy or the gout
All pains within, all pains without
Bring an old woman ninety years dead
Ninety nine years bred
And a hundred years laid in her grave
If she can sit up and crack one of my golden pills
In bond I'll be bound
If a loan of fifty pound
That her life shall be saved
So don't believe me any longer, ladies and gentlemen
I can cure this man if he's not quite dead
{The Doctor opens his bag and administers a large bright-coloured pill to Bold Tanner}
I've travelled through England, Scotland and France
Rise up, Bold Tanner and let's have a dance

{Bold Tanner gets up and the Doctor exits}

Bold Tanner

Terrible Terrible
Life that was never known
Enough to drive a man out of eleven senses into seventeen
Walk in, Jack Vinney

{Enter Jack Vinney}

Jack Vinney

My name's not Jack Vinney
My name is Mister Vinney
A man of great property
Do more than thee or any other man

Bold Tanner

Yes and very likely too

Jack Vinney

Why, kind sir, did ever I do thee any harm?

Bold Tanner

Didn't you get the maid in the barn?

Jack Vinney

Well, I didn't think that any harm

Bold Tanner

Aint your name John May?
Ha'nt I heard thee say?
Didn't you come here to breed a riot?

Jack Vinney

Yes, my humble servant
I was just going to wish thee good night
As I was walking through a farmyard
I kicked up against a whimble straw
Fell over a barn into a pigsty
Pitched with penny loaves and thatched with candlesticks
I kicked at the maid and the door came out
She asked if I'd have a crust of ale
And a glass of bread and cheese
I said: Yes, thank you, and meant
No, if you please

Bold Tanner

Ah saucy Jack, therefore get thee gone

Jack Vinney

Go on, kind sir, I bid thee stand

Bold Tanner

To stand, kind sir, I do not care
Appoint the place and I'll meet thee there

Jack Vinney

Across the grove, the hour of five
I'll meet thee there, dead or alive
Across the grove the hour of six
I'll meet thee there, the time thou'll fix

Bold Tanner

Aha says the gridiron
can't you two agree?

Jack Vinney

I'm just at the head of the town
Don't you know me?

Bold Tanner

Poor Boy
Took astray
Swam nine miles and across a cross
Split his head on a windmill post

Jack Vinney

Well shaved, well shorn
Pick my choice for supper
Fish. fowl or any other bird
Perhaps I may pick a bone
Last Christmas Eve I turned the spit
I burnt my fingers I felt the heat
The spit stood up like a handsome man
And swore he'd drop the dripping pan

[Old Varmer Vat]

Then here comes I Old Varmer Vat
Wife and family at my back
Out of eleven I have but seven
And they poor things have gone to heaven
Out of seven I have but five
And they poor things are starved alive
Out of five I have but three
And they be gone where I shan't tell thee
Out of three I have but two
And they be gone where I shan't tell you
Out of two I have but one
And he be gone to Burford's Stone
Out of one I have got none
And he be gone to Narleize Farm

[Old Tom the Tinker]

Then here comes I Old Tom the Tinker
I was ne'er so small a drinker
I told the landlord to his face
The chimney corner was his place

[Old Cut-and-Slashem]

Then here comes I Old Cut-and-Slashem
Cut-and-slashem is my name
I cuts em down as fine as dust
And sends em to Satan to make mince pie crust

[Old Beelzebub]

Then here comes I Old Beelzebub
On my shoulder I carry my club
In my hand a dripping pan
Don't you think I'm a jolly old man?

[Old Father Christmas]

Here come I Old Father Christmas
Christmas comes but once a year
But when It comes it brings good cheer
Roast beef and plum pudding
A little money in our pockets, ladies and gentlemen

{Exit Jack Vinney}

Bold Tanner

Who's that coming over that green hill did I spy?

Robin Hood

Robin Hood's Little John
The man that will fight with thee in thy field

{Bold Tanner and Robin Hood square up to each other with their staves and begin to fight. Enter Little John}

Little John

O hold your hand
O hold your hand
And let these quarrels fall
For here we get our bones all smashed
For no cause at all

{Enter Musician with his fiddle}


Here comes I as ain't been yet
With my big head and little feet
My head's so big and my feet so small
I'll play ye a tune as'll please ye all

{The Musician plays, all sing, and finally dance round in a ring about him, Jack Vinney following Bold Tanner and hitting him on the head with a bladder as he goes. The song is "Here we come a-Wassailing".}


Kennedy's Notes:

SOUTH CERNEY Gloucestershire
MUMMERS PLAY noted by John Harvey-Webb in the 1930s and then, before his death, passed on to Peter Kennedy for the Folktrax Archive in 1957.

Encoder's Notes:

This script was copied from, where it is given as continuous text. Most character designations are given in bold face, and most line breaks are represented by hyphens. However, these do not appear to be consistent, and sometimes this is confusing, notably with the minor characters towards the end of the play.
We are grateful to Peter Kennedy for his permission to reproduce this script.

File History:

2021-01-15 - Digitised by Peter Kennedy
2005-10-29 - Encoded by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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